Can you build an iPhone app without writing a single line of code?


At the last ESIP summer meeting, a study was undertaken to investigate different commercial tools now available that allow one to create a mobile app without writing a single line of code. The proposed study comprised of two components. First, systematically evaluate different tools to create mobile apps along the dimensions of features and cost. Second, create an iPhone app prototype for the ESIP community using some of these tools. The initial assessment classified the currently available tools to create mobile app tools into two categories. The tools that fall under the first category require no programming but the content for the mobile apps are fed to it either via a web site RSS feed or entered manually. Consequently, these tools only support limited user interactivity. These tools follow the business model of website hosting services. In this business model, a set of templates are offered to the end users with limited customization features to create their content in order to publish to websites. The second category of tools requires programming but the code can be written in popular languages such as Javascript (compatible with most mobile platforms) rather than mobile app specific languages. Two ESIP prototypes were created for the second component of this study. The first prototype required no programming and used the AppMakr tool. The second iPhone prototype was programmed in Objective C and the source code is available on the ESIP website. The study concluded that existing tools do make it easy to quickly create a simple mobile app especially if one already has a well designed website. The associated costs are reasonable but not cheap. However, if the mobile app has requirements that require interactivity and specialized customization then one needs to work with a mobile app developer.